UKERC Energy Data Centre: Projects

Projects: Projects for Investigator
UKERC Home >> UKERC Energy Data Centre >> Projects >> Choose Investigator >> All Projects involving >> EP/M006360/1
Reference Number EP/M006360/1
Title Long-Range Charge and Energy Transfer at Heterojunctions for Photovoltaics Beyond the Shockley-Queisser Limit
Status Completed
Energy Categories RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES(Solar Energy, Photovoltaics) 100%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Physics) 100%
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Dr A Rao
No email address given
University of Cambridge
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 March 2015
End Date 29 February 2020
Duration 60 months
Total Grant Value £1,036,928
Industrial Sectors Energy
Region East of England
Programme Energy : Energy
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr A Rao , Physics, University of Cambridge (100.000%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Eight19 Ltd (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract The development of high-efficiency low-cost renewable energy sources is one of the most pressing research challenges today. Two promising technologies in this area are photovoltaics (PV) and Solar Fuel generation systems. PV work by absorbing sunlight to generate electrical charges that are then collected in an external circuit. Solar Fuel systems work by absorbing sunlight and then using the charges produced to drive redox chemistry to produce chemical fuels from readily available starting materials, for example splitting water to produce H2, which is a powerful fuel.But the cost to efficiency ratio of both these technologies is too high currently. In order to drive the price of these technologies down to match fossil fuels, fundamental breakthroughs are required in the way these systems harness solar energy. This project seeks to tackle this challenge by building on recent insights into quantum mechanical processes in organic semiconductors to improve the efficiency both of current and future PV systems as well as put in place new design ruled for high-efficiency solar fuel generation systems.At the heart of many kinds of PV and Solar Fuel systems are interfaces between organic and inorganic semiconductors. The role of these interfaces, known as heterojunctions, is to separate opposite charges, hole and electrons, from each other and prevent their recombination. We will use the latest breakthroughs in ultrafast laser spectroscopy to study these interfaces and develop novel structure that efficiently separate charges.The biggest energy loss in PV is a process known as thermalization. This refers to the fact that the absorption of a high-energy photon generates one electron-hole pair just as the absorption of a low-energy photon does. The extra energy of high-energy photons above the bandgap is lost as heat. This problem affects all commercially deployed PV today and has long been considered a fundamental loss. Indeed it leads to what is known as the Shockley-Queisser limit on efficiency, which is 33% for an idea PV of bandgap 1.1eV. Here we will use a unique quantum mechanical process in organic semiconductors called Singlet Exciton Fission, to overcome this loss. Singlet Fission allows two electron-hole pairs to be generated in certain organic materials when a photon is absorbed. We will design new ways by which these electron-hole pairs can be harvested at the organic/inorganic interface, leading to improved efficiencies. The methods and structures we will develop using this process would be compatible both with current and future PV technologies, allowing them to over come the Shockley-Queisser limit on efficiency. This could dramatically improve the efficiency of PV and help bring about their wide scale deployment.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 16/03/15